Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Bulls-Eye box camera

Boston Camera Manufacturing Company

Name: Bulls-Eye box camera
Manufacturer: Boston Camera Mfg. Co.
Country of Origin: USA
Construction: Box camera where the film carrier lifts out of the top, just as with the later Kodak Bulls-Eye cameras. (Coe shows a form where the back and sides hinged away).
Production Period:  

Historically significant as the first camera to use Samuel Turner's new numbered paper backed film (requiring the introduction of the red window). George Eastman was later to licence to use the numbered rollfilm in the 1895 Pocket Kodak before buying the company to secure the rights to the patent.

The company history is an interesting story in itself. Turner founded the Boston Camera Company in 1884 and began selling the Hawk-Eye detective camera. In 1890, it was purchased by the Blair Camera Co., with improved versions of the Hawk-Eye detective camera being continued under the Blair name. However Turner left the Blair company and started the Boston Camera Manufacturing Co., which made Bulls-Eye cameras, as featured on this page. It was this second company that was bought by George Eastman.

Turner therefore founded two distinct Boston companies and with each, launched a significant brand name that persisted for many years under new ownership, with both ultimately ending up under the control of Kodak.

Model / Variant: First model with 'D' shaped window (leather covered)
Plate / Film Size: 3" x 3" rollfilm
Lens: Achromatic meniscus
Shutter: Oscillating sector. The arrow on shutter indicates direction to move lever.
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1892
Serial Number: No obvious serial. "129" written in pencil inside the body on one face.
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 135

Description

This example is the leather covered version of the Bulls-Eye box camera.

Wear along the top edges where the unit has been handled when taking the film carrier in & out to load. Simulated leather covering is otherwise in fair condition, but a little dry and fragile. Leather handle is sound and intact. Nice feature is that the original lens cover is still present, tied to handle with thin cord.

The camera came with its original leather case, but in tatty condition.

Paper label stuck to film carrier shows the company name.

<Photographs to be added>

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Model / Variant: First model with 'D' shaped window (plain wood)
Plate / Film Size: 3" x 3" rollfilm
Lens: Achromatic meniscus
Shutter: Oscillating sector. The arrow on shutter indicates direction to move lever.
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1892
Serial Number: No obvious serial.
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 379

Description

Plain wooden (uncovered) version of the Bulls-Eye box camera.

There is a patent date of Dec 1 1891 on the film carrier.

Both early models have a brass plate at the back of the film carrier as part of the transport. (Careful - it falls off if you don't hang onto it) The only obvious difference to the leather covered model is the shape of the 'D' window, which is symmetric in the other example but not in this case.

Leather handle is missing. Some scuffs, bumps and light scratches the surface of the wood. Bottom edge is separating from the sides along one edge. Some rounding to corners (most noticeable at top front right).

Paper label stuck to film carrier shows the company name. Two empty spools present.

<Photographs to be added>

Notes

The early models with the 'D'-shaped window are hard to find, but interesting if only because of their historical significance.

As with many of the rollfilm box cameras of this period, the inside is rather more attractive than the exterior!